Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) reported 59 new Coronavirus cases from the 476 samples tested in the government’s laboratories in the past 24 hours in Afghanistan.
The MoPH reported four deaths and 53 recoveries, pushing those figures to 1,492 dead and 33,614 recovered from COVID-19.
The new cases were reported in the provinces of Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Takhar, Baghlan, Parwan, Farah and Zabul.
Afghanistan has 40,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which 5,094 are active.
President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday condemned the Taliban attack in Firozkoh, the capital of Ghor, where at least 12 people were killed and 100 were wounded in a car bomb explosion.
The statement released by the Presidential Palace said that such attacks reflect the Taliban’s attitude regarding the war and undermines the aspirations of Afghans to end the conflict through peaceful dialogue.
“The government of Afghanistan emphasizes that these attacks, contrary to Islamic and human values, are a continuation of the unjust war against the people of Afghanistan and the deliberate killing of Muslims,” the statement says.
The Presidential Palace again states that continuing Taliban attacks and violence will seriously challenge the peace effort.
They said that Afghanistan wants an end to the war and once again called on the Taliban to renounce their “unjust and un-Islamic” war and accept a ceasefire.
Ongoing war in Helmand
Taliban spokesperson Qari Yousuf Ahmadi issued a veiled threat to the U.S. regarding the airstrikes in Helmand.
They warned the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A) that the Americans violated their commitments to the Doha agreement by carrying out “excessive” airstrikes following the Taliban attacks in Helmand.
“All responsibility and consequences from continuation of such actions shall fall squarely on the shoulders of the American side,” Ahmadi said.
He said that the airstrikes were carries out in areas other than combat zones and where there was no active fighting.
Second Vice President Sarwar Danesh said the Afghanistan National Standards Authority (ANSA) is facing many challenges and needs to implement comprehensive reforms.
Speaking at the World Standards Day celebrations being held by ANSA on Sunday, Danesh said reforms were needed, along with the review of policies and plans to seriously combat corruption.
He said that ANSA had so far approved 656 standards, which is a big step, but more work is needed to identify failures and problems.
Danesh highlighted that some of the problems and challenges were the lack of coordination between government departments and the private sector, lack of necessary staff and capacities, lack of sufficient budget, weak communication with international institutions, instability in the leadership of ANSA, and financial mismanagement, among others.
The vice president said that the expectation of the government and people of Afghanistan from the leadership of ANSA is to accurately identify obstacles, weaknesses and problems and work to eliminate them.
Aziz Ahmadzai, head of ANSA also addressed the event and said that along with developing a number of policies, they were working hard to fight corruption.
He also called on Afghan security agencies, traders and the private sector to work with them to implement the standards and assess the quality of commercial materials.
The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) issued a statement on Sunday, expressing concern over the escalation of criminal activity and insecurity in Kabul and other provinces.
The rights body called on the government to address the root causes of the economic and social factors that lead to criminal activities in order to fight crime.
“Citizens’ right to life and enjoyment of physical, mental and psychological security are fundamental human rights,” they said.
They evoked the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international and national laws, to protect and safeguard the right to life and security of their citizens.
They emphasise that even when dealing with the perpetrators of the crimes, the government must respect human dignity and the principles of fair trial.
The statements come at a time when security officials have been recorded ordering the criminals resisting arrest can be shot at by the police, or that words such as “compassion” do not exist in their dictionary while dealing with crime.
Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said that attacks, such as the one in Ghor, are against the principles of peace being discussed in Doha.
Abdullah, who is on an official trip to Iran, shared a Facebook post on Sunday, condemning the car bomb explosion near the police headquarter in Ghor centre, Firozkoh, that killed at least 12 civilians and wounded 100 more.
Preliminary information by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) showed that most of the victims, if not all, were civilians.
“Any attack on the lives of civilians and committing murder and bloodshed is against Islamic, human and moral standards and is not allowed in any religion,” Abdullah said.
“While peace talks are taking place in Doha, such attacks run counter to the principle of commitment to peace and an end to war and violence through dialogue.”
He added that the increase in terrorist attacks and violence in Afghanistan is also affecting the peace negotiations and expressed hope that the warring parties, especially the Taliban, will demonstrate “goodwill for peace” and stop killing civilians.
It is to be noted that no group, including the Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the blast.
Provincial officials confirmed that three government forces were killed during an attack by the Taliban in Kunduz on Saturday night.
Kunduz governor’s spokesperson Esmatullah Moradi told Reporterly on Sunday, that the Taliban had launched attacks on Afghan Local Police (ALP) checkpoints in the Dehqan Qeshlaq area of Imam Sahib district.
The Taliban attack was repulsed after several hours of fighting, he said.
Moradi added that two members of the People’s Uprising Forces and an ALP officer were also wounded in the attack.
The Taliban also suffered casualties, but the exact number is not known.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said that at least 20 people were killed and wounded in an explosion near the Ghor Police Command compound on Sunday.
Tariq Arian, spokesperson for the MoI, said an explosion was reported at around 11 a.m. in Firozkoh city (Chaghcharan), the provincial centre.
He said “terrorists” blew up an explosive-laden Corolla in front of the Department of Women, Martyrs and Disabled Affairs.
Ghor Police spokesperson Abdul Maruf Ramesh had said that the casualties are expected to be high.
No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion so far.
Takhar police officials said that a school principal and a teacher were killed by the Taliban in the provincial capital of Taloqan city on Saturday night for being pro-government.
Khalil Asir, spokesperson for Takhar Police Command, told Reporterly on Sunday, that the Taliban had killed Saif al-Rahman, principal of the Shamar High School, and Maulvi Abdul Karim, a teacher at the school and a mullah at the local mosque.
He emphasised that the men were killed by the Taliban as school officials and clerics were being targeted for “promoting support” for the Afghan government.
He said that the Taliban had killed them after being defeated by security forces in the province.
The Taliban, however, has not yet commented.
First Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who is in charge of Kabul city’s security, said he will return “real and mental security” back to the people of the capital, in a Facebook post on Sunday.
“Criminals have two choices – behind prison bar or stop crimes,” he said.
He warned that undocumented vehicles, which have been a problem for years, will be confiscated.
Such vehicles make it difficult to track down criminals.
He said the government may decide to legalise the vehicles after confiscating them and then distribute it to the families of those killed in the war.
The first vice president said those who have undocumented vehicles, can pay their taxes and get the vehicle registered. “The choice is yours.”
He also shared his support for the police hotline number “119” and the two WhatsApp numbers where people can send text messages.
“This is an urgent initiative,” Saleh wrote. The number allows people to report crimes and sent tips. “If you have photos and addresses of criminals and outlaws, send them to these numbers as well.”
Even the Taliban had announced their readiness to curb crimes and assassinations in Kabul.
A campaign called #Kabul_is_not_safe has also started across social media with people criticising the government and complaining about the increasing insecurity.
Herat security officials said they managed to locate 140 stolen sheep and goats in Injil and Guzara districts of the province and handed them over to their owners.
Abdul Ahad Valizadeh, spokesperson for the Herat Police Command, told Reporterly on Sunday, that the livestock was stolen from Guzara district, and three people from Injil had been arrested in connection with the theft.
Faryab police had also arrested two people on Saturday for stealing camels.
Two women were killed and two children were injured after a rocket hit a civilian home in the Dehrawood district of Uruzgan on Saturday evening.
Ahmad Shah Sahel, spokesperson for the Uruzgan governor’s office, told Reporterly on Sunday, that the rocket was fired by the Taliban.
It hit a home belonging to a trbial elder in the Zartala village of the district.
Sahel said the two injured children were critically injured and had been moved to a hospital in Kandahar for treatment.
The Taliban have not yet commented.
New police chiefs were appointed to 100 districts across 29 provinces on Saturday during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace.
President Ashraf Ghani, First Vice President Amrullah Saleh and National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib addressed the ceremony.
Mohib said the police commanders were selected in a transparent process by a committee appointed by Ghani.
He told the commander that they were waging a “just” struggle and their actions would reflect on the country.
Zia Asi, head of the Office of the National Security Council’s Security Sector Development, said that the entire appointment process took 45 working days.
Addressing the new commanders, Ghani said that as they move to the districts, there will be motivation, management, commitment and mobility that will be unparalleled in Afghanistan’s history.
“You have been elected because you believe in the country with all your heart and have made sacrifices. The nation wants commitment and sacrifice, and you are the children of commitment and sacrifice,” Ghani said.
He assured the new commanders that they have the support of the national security and defence officials in their fight against the enemies of the country.
Xinhua reports that the pine nut business has changed the lives of the Nuristan farmers since Afghanistan started exporting it to China via the air corridor.
Khost, Paktika and Paktika provinces are known for their quality pine nuts production, but since the opening of the air corridor with China in 2018, plantations have also developed in Nuristan, Laghman, Kapisa and other provinces.
Nuristan businessman Marouf Khan told Xinhua, “Pine nut exports to China over the past couple of years have increased the country’s income and also changed living conditions of those involved in the business.”
Presently many local farmers are working to collect and process pine nuts.
“If the people of Nuristan with the support of government protect and develop the pine nut forests and properly process it with modern machines, definitely they will earn enough livelihood much more than expected to change their living conditions,” Khan told Xinhua.
Since Nuristani farmers started exporting pine nuts, local investments have increased as have job opportunities and incomes.
The provincial agriculture department expected produce to be over 200 tons this year.